Crapsgiving 2013

Thanksgiving interrupted my steady diet of Zatoichi movies long enough to realize that we had gone a significant amount of time without a Crapfest. Heeeey, we’d been busy! And as it is almost impossible to put one together over the Christmas holidays, it was Thanksgiving or nothing, Thanksgiving being one of the few weekends I can actually wrangle a Saturday off.

But my experience is not the same as others. Alan and Mark both had their weekends stolen away by the dreaded 10-Out-Of-12 tech rehearsals for shows they were in. I wondered aloud who would be so cruel as to schedule 10-Out-Of-12s on Thanksgiving weekend. Darth Vader? Atomic Hitler? Anne Coulter? Perhaps it is best that in large part, I am no longer part of the theatrical world.

Because here I was at Dave’s house, with Rick, Erik and Paul. The room did not feel particularly crowded, and there was a genial ease about the whole thing. A rejuvenating experience I desperately needed. Also, Erik allowed me check off an item on my Bucket List by bringing a bottle of Absinthe, along with the necessary spoon. I admit I had my doubts since I hate licorice, but the Green Fairy won me over. I quite enjoyed it, and promised the Twitterverse that I would let it know immediately if it drove any of us mad. Of course, considering what we usually watch at these things, many felt the “driving” part was a little too late.

StarshipWhile everyone got settled in, Dave started things off with Starship Invasions. If you’ve ever seen Starship Invasions, you know that ignoring most of it is the best course of action. I recall this getting wide release after the success of Star Wars; it’s made by Canadians trying to make an Italian movie – at least it always seemed that way to me. The bad guy is Christopher Lee (of course), who is part of a coalition of alien races who sabotages and murders all the other representatives (and when he guns down the Space Strippers, you know he’s evil), so he can exterminate all Earthlings with his Suicide Ray and repopulate it with his leotarded minions. Luckily, one good guy saucer escapes and enlists UFOlogist Robert Vaughn’s help.

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

The ships and alien designs were taken from eyewitness reports of close encounters. That’s a cool touch in a movie that seems a lot like The Terrornauts with a slightly better budget.

Really, the best part was Dave reminiscing about how this was yet another movie his father refused to take him to see.

Some time was taken up by going through my Bag of Tricks©, which I curate throughout the year, tossing in discs which I deem Crapfest-worthy. Dave triaged out the candidates he thought best, and Rick howled “No way in hell are we watching Black Devil Doll from Hell!”. He would then return to his periodic pointed mentions of his new “Unedited, Unexpurgated cut of Evilspeak“, which we were pretty certain only meant it was a solid 90 minutes of Clint Howard’s naked ass. We were all pretty laid back that evening, which is the primary reason every one of Rick’s mentions of Evilspeak wasn’t met with, “You know what I hear is pretty cool? Black Devil Doll from Hell!”

dogvilleOver Dave’s misgivings, I convinced him to start with one of the Dogville shorts, which is high-grade, hallucinatory, what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch material. A series of movie parodies starring dogs in costumes, made from 1929-1931, from the guys who would later direct the Three Stooges shorts. Paul immediately felt this was super-awesome and insured that we would be watching one of these each fest for the foreseeable future. This is what we did with Pink Lady & Jeff, which is a comparison which made Paul re-think this course of action.

What we watched was “Who Killed Rover?” a “Phido Vance” mystery that I appreciate for its refreshingly downbeat ending, but everyone else – save Paul – claimed to be scarred for life by the experience. Paul wanted to immediately continue on to “The Dogway Melody”, but was booed down. In deference to Paul, here is an excerpt from it:

large_dvd_colorspacev1I had brought a metric ton of sausage for our evening meal, and Dave, grillmeister that he is, has an elaborate process for getting the coals just so, which is time-consuming, but I cannot fault the results. So while the charcoal was doing its combustible thing, I put in a disc I had gotten from Diabolik, ModCinema’s ColorScape, Volume One, which is a compilation of movie trailers, commercials, and proto-music videos from the late 60s to early 70s. Or what I like to refer to as “Making the young punks regret they grew up in the 80s”.

Paul and I had a major discussion about how we were lied to as children, and we were certain that adult life was exactly like the scenes unfolding before us: all the grown-ups were swinging (except our parents, who were too old to swing), and every night ended with an orgy. Blake Edwards’ The Party, starring Peter Sellers? That was only a typical Tuesday night. Past that, the experience was mostly wondering why we weren’t watching the movies excerpted in the trailers.

I love damn near all the music on the ColorScape disc, though this was not shared by my compatriots, the heathens. So ha, compatriots! Here’s this one again! Heathens!

After two hours of reveling in 60s hedonism and psychedelic music, the sausages were ready, and so were we – ready for Weng Weng. But we were wrong. Nobody is ready for Weng Weng.

For Your Height Only press book coverThe movie, of course, is the infamous For Y’ur Height Only (why the dropped “o”? I have no idea), starring Weng Weng (actually Ernesto de la Cruz) as “Agent 00”. Weng Weng, at 2′ 9″, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest man to ever have a lead role in a movie.

In the movie, Dr. Kohler is kidnapped because crimelord Mr. Giant wants his “N-bomb”. What exactly the N-bomb does is never explained, and that doesn’t really matter, because Dr. Kohler is going to vanish for the next 80 minutes, and when he returns at the end, you’re going to ask, “Who’s the Anglo?”, because those 80 minutes are going to be jam-packed with Weng Weng kicking ass and using scaled-down James Bond gadgetry.

weng-weng-kissWeng Weng was apparently an accomplished martial artist, and is at the correct height to A) be below your peripheral vision, and B) punch you in the nuts. Repeatedly. And when that doesn’t work, his pretty assistant will just pick him up and throw him at you. Weng Weng eventually faces off with Mr. Giant, who is, to no one’s surprise, a dwarf (oh come on, that’s a given!). This fight scene gave rise to one of the better lines of the night, “My kung fu is smaller than yours!” Although I also give props to Dave, who, while watching Weng Weng leap about and traumatize gonads, entoned, “That’s some X-Men shit, right there.”

Look, there are simply not words in the English language to adequately describe how awesome is the mighty Weng Weng. He never made any movies with Chuck Norris or Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger because they knew they would be completely upstaged. And, by God, Weng Weng does all his own stunts, because face it: There are not a lot of 2′ 9″ stunt men out there.

super_ninjas_poster_01Weng Weng’s amazing kung fu skills put us in the mood for more chop-sockey, and what I had in the Bag was Five Element Ninjas, which is not the best of the Chang Cheh/Venom collaborations, but is still pretty great.

There is one of those acrimonious competitions between two clans in the World of Martial Arts, and the current Lord of the World of Martial Arts brings in a ringer – a samurai, who, when he loses his second match, commits hara-kiri, but sends a note to his pal the Ninja Lord, who proceeds to challenge the victorious clan to another contest, but kills all the best fighters using Evil Ninja Tricks.

The Five Elements come in with the various groups of Ninjas and their specialties, Earth, Water, Fire, Wood and Metal. The Metal Ninjas are the least stealthy ninjas ever, dressed in dazzling gold lamé. But the ones we really hated were the Earth Ninjas, who burrow underground and stab upward with nasty hooked spears, which is a trick that even Weng Weng finds too dirty.

(This also leads to the movie’s most infamous scene, where one good guy soldiers on against the Head Ninja, even through multiple Earth Ninja stabbings; in fact, his internal organs are hanging down through his trouser leg. He does pretty well, too, until he trips over his own guts.)

five-element-ninja-1The ninjas attack the fortified Good Guy compound (thanks to Sinji, the cute ninja, masquerading as an orphan waif), leaving just one good guy intact – who escapes, meets up with an old master who knows the ninja arts (which, we are told, originated in China). Then the survivor and the master’s other three students take on the Five Element Ninjas and take them down with spectacularly bloody results. This is good, because the treacherous ninjas had taken over The World of Martial Arts, and we can’t have that.

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Five Element Ninjas has a bang-up beginning and end, but a very talky middle, while Sinji works her wiles.  Perhaps not ideal Crapfest material, but we did really enjoy seeing the Earth Ninjas get their gory comeuppance.

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

Paul fulfilled his wuss duty at this point and went home, which meant it was time to play the R-rated Titty movie (take that, wuss!), and Dave chose Barbarian Queen.

Barbarian Queen is likely best known for its ill-fated star, Lana Clarkson, who didn’t survive a close encounter with Phil Spector. It’s also fairly infamous for its number of rape scenes. (I may be wrong, but I think Deathstalker beats it in that category. In any case, “Rape scene! Take a drink!” is a dangerous game to play with either one)

Lana’s village is kidnapped by slave traders (the synopsis says “Romans”, but they couldn’t afford Roman costumes), and Clarkson tracks them to the big city where the menfolk are turned into gladiators and the womenfolk into sex slaves for the gladiators. With a setup like that, it’s unsurprising that they plan an uprising while Clarkson basically kegels a torturer to death (since it looks like he has eyebrows glued to his glasses, he pretty much deserved that).

I really miss the days when Roger Corman had Joe Dante and Allan Arkush editing his trailers, you know?

It was late, and though I was still full of caffeinated vim, the hour was getting to most of us. Erik, Rick and I packed our bags and thanked Dave for once again allowing us to pollute the atmosphere in his home. Then we privately met in the front yard, discussing the possibility of a Christmas Crapfest, because, after all, Rick had this fabulous new disc of Evilspeak with all the gore that had previously been cut out intact!

PS. No, Rick!!!! Though I hear Black Devil Doll from Hell is pretty cool…